Tag Archives: black metal

Underground Sounds: Molodost – نسيم جبل صنين

Label: self released
Band: Molodost
Origin: Lebanon

This record collects music made with the project Molodost. Molodost takes its inspiration from Slavic folk metal, particularly Alkonost and their song with the same name as the band. Molodost is however a one man project in the southern land of Lebanon, far from the Russian realms.

Originally Molodost started as a vehicle for poetry, but the one man metal band has become more than that.  Finding an own sound and inspiration in the Slavic folk/black metal scene. There’s a clear ethnic element present, but also a worship of nature and the land. Though oft critisized for being very primitve and lo-fi sounding, this is definitely a choice by the artists that simply fits the need to express. The sound of Molodost is something different, something unique and highly personal. That makes this a record to check out.

The album opens with a calm piano intro, which is strangely free of a clear origin. It’s mystical sounding with synthesizers adding a dungeon synt-y feel to the whole. The blistering riffs on the second song have a metallic twang to them, which resonates with the origin of the music. The noisy drums add another layer of effec to that, which is ever so subtly present. The artist spits out the words like an enraged demon. It’s the typical Arabic pronunciation that really takes it to a new level. As many know, the Oriënt has many mysteries and strange spirits. The vocal style and meandering synths immediately invoke that feeling.

No, I’m not turning this record into a cliché, it’s way to specific and captivating for that. What I particularly like is how the artist blends in the intermissions of dungeon synth to create an aura befitting the record. The Slavic inspiration can definitely be noticed, but it meets with a very own sound on a track like [ازرع الصحراء]. The riffs sound very peculiar here, but are also very intriguing and offering another different taste of the mystique of the eastearn landscapes, also the desert under a blazing sun, the mountains when the sun crests the top.

[مائدة الفقير] is a dense song, full of synths and trickling, Burzum-esque elements. The vocals are performed by Lord Dark from the band Tears of Regret. It’s a remarkably peaceful tune, with the ever present synth elements to keep that eerie vibe up. Nonetheles, Molodost packs a punch without ever really firing up. Maintaining a steady atmosphere and an indpendent voice, make this a record I can listen to over and over.

Underground Sounds: Forest of Trys – Frostburn

Label: –
Band: Forest of Trys
Origin: Lithuania

There’s  a joke in the name, because Trys just sounds like trees. The profile picture on bandcamp is a fat cat and you might start having doubts about the seriousness of Forest of Trys . Still the sound of the band is not one for light jokes and fun, but a grim affair indeed.

Forest of Trys only has one member listed on Metal Archives, namely Šmėkla. Another fact is that the band hails from Kaunas and did release a full lenght earlier in 2016, titled ‘Architect’.

‘Stars I’ is the opener, which starts with hazy, distorted noisy black metal. It feels like an industrial haze with the lecherous sound of Fat White Family somewhere hidden in the sonic fog (no clue how I take that from it). Then suddenly it merges into an old carnival tune, not dissimilar to the Eraserhead soundtrack by David Lynch. It all sounds just a bit of and wrong, which makes the vibe more slightly unnerving. Guided by martial drumming, the song moves back to the noisey dissonance. Shattering sampling and icy beats follow for the next part of the track, creating a noisy template of assault.

A more gritty sound can be heard on ‘Stars II’, where we seem to move away even further from the noisy black metal sound. Groaning noise pulsates in the air, while string elements create a semblance of style and class in sharp contrast to the colossal noise. Again, such a peculiar sound, but the final song, surprisingly titled ‘Starts III’ really takes the cake. Grim, desolate and full of industrial elements, it consists of more effects and samples of people speaking in an order that feels completely random. Pulsating, humming, squeeking the sont thunders on, with a seemingly random drum pattern offering a semblance of steadiness in the sound.

The record is an almost nightmarish trip. This is a peculiar album, with only black metal as a spirit present. Lithuania seems to have some interesting musicians out there. This record would go down well with noiseheads and experimental listeners too. Nice stuff!

Underground sounds: Draugsól – Volaða Land

Label: Signal Rex
Band: Draugsól
Origin: Iceland

Iceland’s young black metal scene keeps producing diamonts. I think that Draugsól is just the next one in line with their excellent debut ‘Volaða Land’. It translates as something like ‘land of misery’, which is a fitting titled for a black metal band that seems to have a sound inspired by the Nidrosian style in black metal. But hey, that’s probably painting them with too broad strokes.

This group is ofcourse not a collective of unknown figures, but are also active in Mannveira, In Crucem Agere and Cult of Lilith. So all in all, close to the tight knit Icelandic scene with a bit of death metal thrown into it. Like most band in that scene, there’s a definite identity to their sound. A rawness and untamed element that immediately stands out when you listen to them.

The sound of the title track immediately sets up something epic, working as an intro with powerful voices and muscular drum rolls. Howls and dissonant guitars fill the air and let their squeel merge into ‘Formæling’. The deep, guttural vocals and the cascading riffs are immediately affirming the chest pumping epic direction the sound is going in. The cascading riffs are remniscent of other northern battle metal bands, maybe even a bit of Keep Of Kalessin with the straight forward, clean riffing. The overall clean production really helps the band carry their sound to an epic status, instead of becoming a more bestial sounding band.

No, there’s an honest grandeur to the sound of this band.  Mainly thanks to the arches of the guitar, that is often let free to soar and roam the land. Implementing some nature sounds also works in favor of their overall experience, like the falling water on ‘Bót Eður Viðsjá Við illu Aðkasti’. As a listener you can detect some Enslaved in the sound here. The stretched out parts with intentse tremolo riffing, the shifts and build-up in the song, even the gurgly vocals feel like they connect there. It feels as if Draugsól has a tendency to be slightly more progressive.  At other moments they really stick to the traditional aspects, but there’s definitely a different groove to this band.

I have to add some Behemoth to that, because the band certainly knows how to bring it big. Somewhere in between all that they deliver a fierce debut and I hope these guys will be around for a bit.

 

Underground Sounds: Veldes – Ember Breather

Label: Razed Soul Productions/Pest Productions
Band: Veldes
Origin: Slovenia

One could argue that autumn is not the worst time of the year, but on ‘Ember Breather’ one might start changing ones opinion. This is the second full lenght of Veldes from Bled. A project manned by Tilen Šimon, who’s been active in NephrolithWintersoul and more. Veldes is also the word from medieval times for the vastness of the landscape in the region where the music originates from. Roots run deep as we know.

What attracted me to the record are the clean passages, the mournful tone and a sort of olschool feeling to the sound. You can feel the nature inspiration in the way the sound wanders of, the acoustic elements and warmth of the sound. The contrast between that warmth and the icy high-pitched screams is rather big, which is a specialty for Veldes. I get the comparison to Drudkh, but there’s also something of Agalloch I suppose.

What I particularly like in the sound of Veldes is the contrast between those clean sounds and the harsh, gnarly drums and vocals. It gives a much more hooked and scharp sound to the band, without taking away the massive atmosphere that is created. The sense of forlorn times and grief remains intact for the listener. Those themes are very present in the song titles as well and the fading art work on the record cover. It all falls into place with the long piano pieces, like on ‘To Ruins Of Throneless Realm’. A slow progressing piece with laborously toiling guitars and some tremolo play. The drums are barely needed to keep the flow of sound going.

When you find that calm in the flow of the music, there’s always that shriek to wake you up again and arouse you from the slumbering trees. When it comes to this type of music, Veldes is in its own remote valley.

 

Underground Sounds: Cober Ord – Le Revers du Soleil

Label: Nomos Dei
Band: Cober Ord
Origin: France

The dark holds many shapes, even the other side of the sun might be dark if this album is any indication. The French duo Cober Ord take inspiration from something deeper than nature. Something more primordial than the earths shaping, which you find in an underlying rhythm and timbre.

The duo embraces the spiritual idea of animism. This means that certain objects and beings possess distinctive spiritual qualities. That is something they try to put into their sound, which is stripped of human elements in a way. It’s the forgotten caves, the underground rivers and the unknown corners of the world. Think ambient, but also just sounds, field recording meets drone. All of that and more by Ynn (vocals, noise and sounds, known from Habsyll) and Yn (percussion, known from Stille Volk and Ihan).

The dark, meandering drone reminds me of David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Is it a drone or an organic sound, because it feels alive and puts up the hair on the back of my neck. It’s a part of the 17 minute opening (and title track), which gradually leads you to the deepest parts of the world, where only inhuman sounds occur. Towards the end, bestial roars interrupt the drone. In the dark with nowhere to go, this is not what I’d call a pleasant moment of the record. Droning, doomy and with sounds that make you feel slightly queesy and unnerved, the sound meanders on. The vocals are modified and mutated to unearthly entities, but all still is part of a rhythmic, natural sounding progression.

That changes when the percussion takes the forefront on ‘Forêt V Cathédrale Glas I’. It feels like you’ve ended up in a different place, an underworld furnace, where mad rhythmic hammering is resounding. It’s a hellish racket, but almost industrial sounding and strangely magical as well. The vocals indicate other creatures from more mythical sources, working their instruments here in a devilish symphony with pumping bellows and clanging of anvils. Guttural barks resound over this rhythm.

It’s amazing how strongly this music plays on the imagination. It’s like a black metal paradise, but what makes it so unnerving is how real the sounds are, how every peep and squeek is audible, as if they’ve really went down into the darkness to make recordings of an unknown danger. But there’s a beautiful harmony to the sound as well, it’s always rhythmic, organic and flowing forwards unstoppably. It’s an aural journey that resets your thinking in a profound way.

This is magical, hauting and a bit creepy, but such a wonderful effort. I really recommend locking yourself up in the dark and listening to Cober Ord. Maybe in a dark forest, to experience the otherness. Well worth it.

 

 

 

Underground Sounds: Velnezers – Pēdējā Saule

Label: Beverina Productions
Band: Velnezers
Origin: Latvia

Velnezers is the creation of Roberts Blūms, a Latvian musician who did everything on the first demo and album, but now the group is continuing as a four piece band. Bringing full weaponry to the table that means on their second full length ‘Pēdējā Saule’, which translates as ‘last sun’. An interesting endeavour of violent black metal.

The band has a very down to earth approach to it. So much that I’d call their sound earthy as well. The songs are rather straight forward, but with an ethnic element of rolling up your sleeves and getting in on it. The cover speaks of some sort of pastoral sound, perhaps inspired by the wintery countryside, but this is not what you get with Velnezers. The band name might be derived from a Wagars track, but I’m not certain about this.

There’s something typical about the sound of Velnezers, from the vocals (in Latvian) you can see that the language shapes the way it fits in with the music. Something I find typical about many Baltic bands. The riffing is often not too complex, but much more expressive and tasty. The track ‘Raganu Medības’is a nice bit of thrashy black metal, with rolling sound and threatening effect. Jumping from the thrashing passages, straight into the blast beat-tremolo roll, it shows how easily the band shits sound. It’s a sound that is feisty, furious and energising, but always with that darkened edge, which makes them so accesible.

Though the band stays pretty close to a rough sounding black metal band, there’s definitely a good rock’n’roll vibe going on. The clear production helps the musicians articulate their sound clearly and cohesively, without becoming the static broth you often hear. Still it sticks close to the ghoulish original Mayhem sound with the bombastic power of Behemoth at times. The clear sound helps in creating space for that vibe. The clear atmosphere never gets lost in a pile of guitar distortion. Both influences can be heard on ‘Meži Deg, Dūmi Kūp I’.  On the other hand, you can detect some death/sludge influences on ‘Svētīts Tiek Mirstīgais’.

Stranger even then, to suddenly hear a mellow, acoustic track. The vocals on ‘Meži Deg, Dūmi Kūp II’ sound distant, far removed from everything. The song flows forward like a calm river with repetitive waves and singing. It is a unusual song for a black metal album, but like most bands from the Baltics, there’s something eclectic to the sound of Velnezers. This song swells up to a gloomy expression of despair, ending with some mere piano tones. The title track closes of with some big riffs. This is a great record, if you can get past the Latvian language vocals. Enjoy!

Underground Sounds: Tarnkappe – Winterwaker

Label: Hammerheart Records
Band: Tarnkappe
Origin: Netherlands

Black metal as a genre has been wildly progressive in the last few years and though some say it burned out, the embers are being fanned into new flames again. Nonetheless, there are those bands who bring you back to the essence of the genre. Tarnkappe is one of those and they do it very, very well on this second full length by the northerners.

With members in their ranks from bands like Gheestenland, Krocht, Asregen and Kjeld, you sure have some quality. The word Tarnkappe comes from a German word for a magic cloak. Pretty cool huh? Also pretty cool is the black and white album cover, the menacing Teutonic font and overall classic black metal feel. It’s a bit like back to the Darkthrone days of yore, when black metal was simple and evil.

That grim and frosty sound is definitely present in the ever continuing blast beats and static riffing. Tarnkappe rarely aims to show of their musical prowess, but works industrious on a continuous tapestry of thick woven riffs and beats into e freezing blanket of sound. On ‘ Aan De Aarde Gebonden’ we even get some of that black metal swing, with those evil sounding riffs and lingering passages giving room for the vocals. It’s really the feeling of the nineties that the band evokes on this amazing record. A continuous, grim sounding rain of sound with some very well placed atmospheric parts. I suppose a bit like the second wave of bands from the Norwegian scene like Gorgoroth. A sound much more measured and condensed.

The record seems to be misunderstood at times by reviewers, seeing the cohesive, tight record as a bit too controlled and organized. I think that’s exactly where it draws its strength from. With nature as an overlying theme, that natural order and harmony is translated into the music giving it a controlled and managed sound. It’s a different sort of order, but much more beautiful. This is what makes them stand out so much. There’s a majesty without glamour or shine to the sound. which is the way nature is considered beautiful. ‘Kale vlakten, desolatie’ is perhaps the most exemplifying song of that, with slow, thick riffs. A bit of an Enslaved-like grandeur in the heavy, sludgy sound even. This is black metal the way you love it and want it.

 

Underground Sounds: Wędrujący Wiatr – O turniach, jeziorach i nocnych szlakach

Label: Werewolf Promotions
Band: Wędrujący Wiatr
Origin: Poland

With a name that means as much as ‘Wandering wind’, you can have a good idea what direction Wędrujący Wiatr is going to be taking the sound in. The album ‘O turniach, jeziorach i nocnych szlakach’. The group hails from Rabka-Zdrój/Olsztyn and has delivered a spectacular album.

Describing themselves as atmospheric black metal, the inspiration for their songs is drawn from Polish folklore, legends and myth. Though that in itself is something that completely fascinates me, I’m not going to be able to figure it all out as easily, so let’s focus on how much the music already tells us.

The intro is a series of ambient sounds, the weary cracking of trees, a dog barking and owls hooting. A gentle folky melody emerges, while the wind gently blows. It helps to know that in the band comes from Warmia, a region in the north-east of Poland, what was former Prussian ground (and I’m not referrin to the Germanic state, but the Baltic-Prussians). When the black metal kicks in, there’s a weary synth line and a short break of melancholic chanting, which I’ve heard from Baltic bands too. It is after all a region that shares history and culture in many ways, but regardless. I’m speculating.

There’s something of the sea and windy forests to the way the sound works for this band. It’s like there’s a continuous windy gale through the music. It almost overtakes the music itself, which is intense, sometimes blistering. The demanding vocals are shouting, roaring even against the sonic storm around it. The band knows exactly when to put a break in, which then ends with a primitve sounding drum. Passages with wavery, static riffing help the listener dream away with the band. The record also has a folky intermission, which again sets a great mood. Musicallly the band is drowning the listener in the emotions and moods it tries to convey. This they do very succesfully on an album that sets them apart from the rest.

This whole record is an eerie, special experience. You listen to something that eases you into a dreamy past of a land that has its very own identity and colour. Wędrujący Wiatr manage to connect synths, atmosphere and an organic brutality to create an intrinsic, mysterious experience. An album to fall in love with.

Underground Sounds: Battle Dagorath – I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos

Label: Avantgarde Music
Band: Battle Dagorath
Origin: USA/Germany

With a band name, referring to Dagor Dagorath, the mythical end-battle in Tolkien lore (used for the final battle of the early ages, read The Silmarillion, you hobbit). With a title, that brings to mind the great Bal-Sagoth, this is a classic endeavour by Battle Dagorath in the field of epic black metal, titled ‘I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos’.

I think you can safely say that this comparison isn’t completely ridiculous. The band is a studio project of Vinterriket (Christoph Ziegler, Germany) and Black Sorcerer Battle (USA). The duo worked together on Hellschwadron as well. There used to be a third partner, but now only two members are listed for this release. It’s part one of a story the band wishes to

The sound of the band is steeped in the blistering cold of bands like Emperor, with the sense of majesty of Wolves in the Throne Room. It’s not easy to create long epic songs that remain interesting to the listener and Battle Dagorath does pull that off. A bit of story telling also isn’t missing, in between the cannonades of cold riffs that pour down on you. For example, ‘Phantom Horizons Beyond’ has an outro of cold, metallic clanging and the sound of steps. This may seem trivial, but ambiance is everything with sounds like this.

The continuous, beating sound is enriched by calm, melodic guitar lines that weave through the haze. The combination of that melodic element and the rawness of the overal sound is what gives the album its interesting contrast. The vocals are furious barks, filled with venom. It’s intriguing to hear them being followd up with clean, warm guitar parts, like on ‘Return to Gates of Dawn’. The comforting tones shift back to the vitriolic howls over tremolo riffs and blast beats. There’s something very classic to the sound of Battle Dagorath, but it feels fresh and welcome to hear a band like this. Hectic, wild and like a raging battle, they do justice to their name.

Underground Sounds: Downfall Of Gaia – Atrophy

Label: Metal Blade
Band: Downfall Of Gaia
Origin: Germany

The German Downfall Of Gaia is definitely a unique sound in the sludge/hardcore world. I like placing them in that genre-corner, because they remind me a lot of Converge, Altar Of Plagues and their ilk with the intense, bleak sound they produce. The band has concocted a very own mixture of styles nd it’s a highly effective one at that.

Thought he comparison of previous bands seems obvious, there’s definitely more to the band than that. Isis can be heard in the sludge elements, which are thick and spiced up with those wavery guitar parts. Then there’s a more rough around the edges crust element akin to Amebix and Discharge. All that leaves you as a band completely free to go in whatever direction you feel like. That is what the band does on ‘Atrophy’.

The howling vocals are really bringing that Converge comparison to life on opener ‘Brood’. Thunderous rhythms are combined with melodic guitar, completely disconnected from the ferocity going on with the vocals and rhythm section. The way the band manages to create music that is pleasant to listen to, while maintaining that raw edge is definitely part of why Downfall Of Gaia should be much bigger. The appeal of their sound is just very broad. The bestial bark of Dominik Goncalves dos Reis just works fine with the sweet riffs on ‘Woe’. There’s almost a bit of postrock there, with the warmth-evoking guitar work.

Building up tension is another postrock element the band has fully embraced. On ‘Ephemerol’ the tranquility of the guitar play and its sudden vibrant harmony with the rhythm section is part of that, of creating that tension so necessary for this music to really work. Always there’s a slight raw edge, in this case a distorted buzz around the edges of the guitar tones. Another majestic track unfolds, after which we get a short intermission that is as dreamy as music by the xx.

A highlight of the album is the soaring guitar work on the titlesong. The vocals appear from a cavernous underground, distant and muffled. As the album deals with themes of dead and life, you can feel the continuous contrast in the sound with opposing elements. Stretched guitar tones create some sort of blaring black metal static as melodious guitar play trickles into your ears. One feels close and warm, the other far away and cold.

Atrophy as a whole is a vitalist, contrasting and energetic record, where humble acoustics go hand in hand with black metal majesty. It’s agressive but never abrasive, furious but never losing control. If this was football, this would be total-metal by Downfall Of Gaia.